The Ladder

Let’s just put in a new window.

She had a point.  The old single-hung window was pathetic, the lower pane broken, with a piece of plywood covering the missing glass.   The combination of dirty, scratched glass and the not-so-efficient plywood patch made it seem that the natural light outside had to squeeze its way in, rather than streaming in from the sky, as one would expect.  The paint on the window frame is peeling and it is easy to see that water has been leaking onto the wood for years.  Perhaps it really is finished.

One might have thought that—before today.

Today, I made what seemed like fifteen trips up a ladder with the sole intent of proving the old window still had some life left in it.  Fifteen trips up to a window twelve feet off the ground.  Fifteen trips back down.

I carried tools up to remove the old glass, tools to clean out the old glazing compound and glazier’s points, tools to scrape peeling paint, and even a tool to make sure the window won’t keep sliding open on its own.  I brought broken panes down.  I carried new panes up.

In between, I stood near the top of the ladder and labored.

Tomorrow, I’ll make a few more trips up and down.

The window is going to be fine.  Really.  The building contractor working on the new house next door to my old one looked over at it this afternoon and told me so.  He says it’s looking great.

The window is going to be fine.

I’m not so sure about me.  The old legs are shaky tonight.  Muscles ache and I have a slight cramp in the arch of my foot, where it rested on the rung—when it wasn’t climbing up or down the rest of the rungs.

I had a different scenario in mind when I insisted we save the old window.  It involved one trip up the ladder.  It involved one trip down the ladder.

No one wants to cover ground they’ve already covered.  Like Longfellow’s blacksmith, we want to see something attempted and something done.  Just like that—all on the same day.

Try.  Do.  Wipe your hands.

Tomorrow, I’ll go up the ladder again.  And very possibly, the next day, I’ll go up the ladder again.

And, in that realization, I see before me the analogy of my existence these days.

Each morning finds me in the same valley, looking up at the job I know must be done.  The mountain must be climbed, tasks will be attempted, but it seems certain the goal won’t be reached.

Weary and frustrated, I’ll slide down the mountainside one more time, only to tackle it again tomorrow.  The words Mr. Shakespeare put into the mouth of Macbeth centuries ago make their way even now into my own: Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

Hmmm.  One might get the idea I’m discouraged.  Perhaps, even angry.  

I have been.  Both of them.

As I did today when I descended the ladder for the last time, I have looked up and have seen, not the progress which has been made, but the great amount of the task yet to be accomplished.  

Standing on the ground, looking up this afternoon, even after hearing my contractor friend praise my attempts, it was easy to wonder why I even considered reviving that old window.

What an astonishing waste of time!  How do I justify the effort and expense?

And yet…

As I put away the tools and my ladder, a thought hit me.  They do that, you know.

I wonder what it looks like from inside the room?

Wearily, but with just a hint of anticipation, I clomped up the rough staircase inside.

I won’t say I was awestruck.  I wasn’t.  Still, as I stepped off the top step into the room, the difference was surprising.  Light, from the sunny Spring sky, filled the room.  All the dingy impediment of the old panes was a thing of memory.  

Now, we’re getting somewhere!

Sometimes, all it takes is to look at the thing from a different perspective.  We’ve been looking at it from the same side for so long, we can’t see how close we are to reaching the goal.

Tomorrow will be another day.  The journey still beckons, in all of its unromantic tedium.

I’ll climb the ladder again.  And again.

It’s how the light gets inside.

Climb the ladder again tomorrow. It's how the light gets in. Click To Tweet

 

 

Toiling, rejoicing, sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.
(from The Village Blacksmith ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ~ American poet ~ 1807-1882)

 

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
“For in just a little while,

the Coming One will come and not delay.
And my righteous ones will live by faith…”
(Hebrews 10: 36-38 ~ NLT)

 

 

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.

3 thoughts on “The Ladder

  1. If only a little while seemed little.

    I really enjoyed this. Perhaps because we’re all climbing a ladder of some sort, and we get discouraged because we thought it would be a one or at the most two-trip job. Here’s to strength when we get weary. Sometimes I’m very weary.

  2. Sometimes, life does feel like we’re doing the same tasks over and over, yet not getting anywhere. But persistence is, indeed, the key if we want to see progress eventually. If we are doing anything to let more of God’s light into our lives and the lives of others, it’s never a waste of time.
    Blessings, Paul!

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